Thursday, October 13, 2022

Timeline scenarios for Charter Challenge

A grassroots supported CharterChallenge for Fair Voting has finally won its day in court: Sep 25, 2023.

However, this doesn’t leave enough time for a new electoral system to be implemented by the next federal election, which is only 2 years away: Oct 20, 2025 (1)

Here’s one possible timeline scenario showing the various blocks of time required for each step:

First: Time between Hearing and Judgement = 5 mos? (2)

Second: Time for the government to act on a declaration that First Past the Post is unconstitutional = One year to 18 months (3)

Third: Appeals and Stay (3) = ?

Fourth: Electoral Officer’s required time for logistics and voters to learn new system before voting = 2 years (4)

When you add up these blocks of time, here’s what you get:

If there is no appeal, then here’s a rough calculation of a one possible timeline:

6 mos for court to rule

+ 18 mos for govt to make new law

 + 24 mos for Electoral Officer to set up the logistics of a new electoral system

Total =  48 mos (4 years)

If there is an appeal, then the total time is even longer.

Therefore we will almost certainly not have a new electoral system in place for the 2025 federal election.

Nevertheless, if the 2025 election produces a minority government instead of a majority, then, according to past experience, there will likely be another early election in only two years (2027)  instead of a full term of four years (2029).

If the First Past The Post system is declared unconstitutional then a new electoral system could be in place in time for an election in 2027 even if it takes four years to put a new system into law and into place logistically.

The wild card is this: What if an appeal takes place, and how long would that take?

But here’s a card that’s not so wild: Such a precedent set at the federal level will almost certainly affect the future of all provincial electoral systems.



Footnote 1: Fixed election date

Quote: “the maximum duration of a parliament by ensuring that it ends no later than October of the fourth calendar year after its commencement, while leaving the possibility of an earlier end unaffected.”

Date of Oct 20, 2025:

Footnote 2: Time between Hearing and Judgement

Past record shows:

2 months in case of same-sex marriage:  

4 months in R v Morgentaler  

5 months in Vriend v Alberta

Footnote 3: Time for the government to act on a declaration that First Past the Post is unconstitutional: One year to 18 months:

See video ” Voices from the Movement, featuring Jesse Hitchcock, Nicolas Rouleau & Antony Hodgson”

See 57:59: “What we’ve asked for in the challenge is a declaration that First Past The Post is unconstitutional. A declaration is a court order …so it means the government is back to the drawing board and would have to come up with a law that wouldn’t be unconstitutional.

See 59:59 “Within a year we’d have a new law.”

See 1:03:16: Question from Dave Meslin: “How long does a government usually have to update their legislation?”

Quote from constitutional lawyer Nicolas Rouleau:

“The [previous case of] ‘Medical Assistance In Dying’ went past the deadline. I think they got two extensions…For big laws like this that are struck down the government gets a year. I forget whether we asked for a year or 18 months of suspension in our notice of application but basically within a year or 18 months you’d have a new law in place unless there was an appeal in which case there’d probably be a stay pending the appeal.”

Footnote 4:

Star article from July 8, 2016: Chief electoral officer warns time running out on overhauling system: Paul Wells.

Quote from article: ““We need at least two years,” Mayrand said”


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